Just one of many yummy little morsels from Omnivore magazine:
As noun, the word means essentially a flash— a flash of lightning, a flash of wit, a burst of temper, the spark of an idea, an inspiration, a whim. (People there [Scotland] snap their fingers and say, “I just had a flist!”) It is also used in bottle-opening: “Time to flist that bottle!” It is variously spark, flare, light, astonishment, leap of the imagination. It carries these meanings well; and it remains always crisp in the memory.
—excerpt from Flist, Alastair Reid
The prototype issue of Omnivore came out in 2003, a collaborative project headed by Lawrence Weschler (author of Mr Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder and Everything that Rises) and backed by NYU. The publication is currently in hiatus, and the first issue is only available via the venerable Museum of Jurassic Technology. Lawrence Weschler’s Prospectus for a New Magazine is well worth a read. Here’s a juicy quote from the intro:
The sort of moment, that is, that has proven increasingly fugitive in the temporal frenzy that has come to characterize the increasingly peg-driven, niche-slotted, attention-squeezed, sound-bit media environment of recent years. An environment wherein, as a friend of ours recently parsed matters, “the funnels and the piping, the ducts and the belts, the overall design strategies used to convey capital efficiently from the ‘consumer’ to all the correct bank accounts—all of it has become ever more frighteningly efficient.” And the method is almost everywhere the same: “A short, sharp whiff of stimulation,” as our friend put it, “ followed rapidly by a hand in your back pocket. In short: crack.” What our friend likens to a sort of drug-pushing, we sometimes prefer to think of in terms of neo-Pavlovian conditioning: jolt, salivate, spend — move on. In either case, we are speaking of a kind of death of the soul—or, at any rate, the successive parching of the staging ground for any sort of idiosyncratic readerly-writerly communion of souls.
The 176-pg 7-course meal that is Omnivore is simply delicious. It’s impossible to pick this publication up and browse through it without needing to read bits of it out loud to whoever is sitting nearest to you. In fact, I’m sure I won’t be able to refrain from posting more about it here over the next few weeks.
So why isn’t Omnivore on the racks? It doesn’t have a specific target demographic, it’s hard to define, it doesn’t pander to any particular audiences, it wasn’t widely distributed, it wasn’t designed for the “attention-squeezed & niche-slotted.” (Of course, these are all reasons why I like it so much as a reader) But, really, why didn’t Omnivore take off? Weschler offers up a quote from William Shawn:
“Writers don’t make magazines, millionaires do.”
Weschler talks a little more about his experience in this interview with The Morning News.
Oh, and the tagline for Omnivore?
Hopelessly utopian. Desperately needed.
Need a copy? Procure one from the Museum of Jurassic Technology’s bookstore here.